Friday, December 16, 2011

Mentoring series

Hi friends.
You may not know that I've started a mentoring series being featured by my friend Casey on her blog. You know Casey, right? She's a really amazing woman and mother with a beautiful, loving heart.
But just so I have my words at home here on my blog as well, I'll be re-posting them a month behind. (In other words, I'm posting #1 here today from last month, and she'll be putting up #2 in a day or two.)

If you follow Casey, you'll see #2 a month ahead of it appearing here!

Have a great weekend!
Don't drown in wrapping paper and gingerbread.

When I was a new mom, I read every book I could on babies. I talked to other friends who were young moms. I took the hospital classes. The idea of being unprepared freaked. me. out. So when my daughter was born, I was constantly striving to feel prepared.

In fact, I spent much of my days preparing so nothing would be forgotten and nothing could go wrong.  Preparing the diaper bag. Preparing for meals. Preparing for bedtime, and nighttime feedings, and mid-day accidents, and every possibility that the day could bring my baby and me. It was exhausting, and motherhood quickly became the most stressful job I’d ever had.

I was striving to be prepared for whatever came next, many days I failed. My tricks for getting my daughter to stop crying suddenly wouldn’t work, or naptime was a disaster, or I forgot a change of clothes for her, or lost her pacifier in the store. One day, I accidentally locked her and the keys in the car. With it running. Because babies and life are very unpredictable, I felt like a constant failure.

Not only was I not enjoying my baby, but I was trying to achieve the impossible.

An acquaintance suggested I join her MOPS group (A Christian-based group for moms of kids under the age of 5). I didn’t want to go. But it happened to meet at a church across the street, so I tried it. The first meeting I attended, I felt so understood I wanted to burst into tears. Every woman around me looked like they went through the same train wreck of a morning to get there as I did, but they all seemed to be okay with it. I have no idea what the speaker talked about, only that she said, with deep sincerity, that we as mothers had the most important job in the world. Oh, the honor she lavished on me and my humble role as mother to my baby! With a lump in my throat, I left that day with new wind in my sails.

Shortly after, something clicked. I began to get a new understanding for what it meant to be prepared. I couldn’t be prepared to protect myself against every circumstance that could come our way during the day. But I could be prepared with support.

Having a support system made up of women at my same stage became my preparedness. They became my emotional and practical lifelines. I could call the mom with a child a little older than mine when I needed to ask her a question. In fact, I still do. I just recently asked her how she deals with her middle-school aged daughter and the mature content of the books she now reads. Still. After nearly ten years, I look to this mom for advice.

From then on, I made it my mission to surround myself with mom friends I could spend time with regularly. Our kids would play while we hashed out the issues we were facing as mothers. Yes, we were half-listening to each other and half-mothering. It was still totally worth it. These friendships made me feel normal; I never guessed that everyone forgot a change of clothes for their baby once in a while. Instead of feeling embarrassed about what I was getting wrong, I could see the ways in which I was growing and becoming quite capable. My self-confidence was going up, my stress was going down, and I was finally feeling free to enjoy my baby girl.

Now, I see young mothers who don’t have these kinds of friendships established. I notice they seem to feel far more hopeless, discouraged, and alone when challenges arise. Friends, God has designed us to function better in community. Find these kinds of women in your life. Join a MOPS group, or a play group, or a toddler class of some sort that meets at least twice a month and be intentional about pursuing relationships with other moms. This is NOT for the sake of your child; you are not making playdates for them. This is for you, and when you are more uplifted, you will naturally parent your child better.

It takes some work to make friends. But not as much work as it does to survive motherhood alone. Being prepared is simply a matter of having someone who understands what you’re going through and can lend a hand when you need.

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10



  1. i loved this on casey's blog. (and love it still here) you are amazing.
    happy weekend!

  2. Thank you SO much for this post! I've been thinking about joining a mops group since she's been born, she's now 17 months old. I think I've just been intimidated, but now I'm motivated to join!

  3. Hello! I came over from Casey's blog and I can't even tell you how much I loved reading this. I don't have kids yet. My husband and I both went back to college two years ago and decided we'd start trying when we finish. I finish in May. I'm 30 years old, and even though I rarely admit it, party of me has waited to have children because it scares me to death! I want to be a mom so desperately, but I'm so afraid I can't do it, or that I'll mess up my kid or that I won't be able to handle the stress of it. Somehow, even with you describing all the woes you had, I feel a bit relieved knowing that everyone has these stresses.
    I'm also a little worried I won't be able to find a group of friends at this stage. As a returning college student, most of the people I'm around right now are 10 years younger than me and are nowhere near that stage in their lives. But it's good to hear that there are groups out there that I can seek out.
    Thanks for sharing your story. It has put my mind at rest, at least for a little bit, today. Blessings to you!

  4. So true, it's funny today I forgot my sons change of clothes and a major accident at the mall. I was searching everywhere for an inexpensive outfit to change him into, thankfully it all worked out :)
    I love my mom's group, it's just like mop's but we do more of a Bible study. It has helped me so much. In january I will have to go back to work and I am already feeling so sad that I will miss my group of friends. You are SO right, God made us to live in community with one another.

  5. Yes! God MADE us for community we are ONE IN CHRIST, and we need that community to SURVIVE and THRIVE.
    Yay! So PTL that you have this and went for this, that is right, it is work on our parts to get involved and help make it happen, God will provide, but we are His Co-partners!!!
    Also EXPERIENCE too in life in general...i found myself pregnant at 19 and unable to try to "prepare" "perfectly" but along the way I got skills and was equipped through the experiences of Motherhood. THAT is what teaches us too. There is only so much we can plan for in life, but we use our gifts that God has provided, and we put our all into our kids, and then we lay them at the Altar, knowing that we aren't in control anyway, no matter how much we "try".
    Hope this made sense! I have a really really good Devotional on laying our kids at the Altar of God, I should send it to you!

  6. I loved this on her blog. I'm so happy that you're doing this monthly series. You put words to things that I didn't even realize I had been feeling.

    Love you friend and miss you!

  7. Such good advice. It is so important to have friends that understand our child rearing seasons... they laugh and cry with us. They are Jesus' hands to guide us through.

  8. Leslie, I found your blog over at Casey's and I am so glad I did! You have such a sweet spirit and your words are so encouraging and inspiring. This post really make me realize how much I need to find a group like this in my own life. After moving across country so many times (over 9 to be exact), I loose those friends and support systems each time. Next week we are moving yet again, but once we are settled in I will be on a look out for MOPS groups in our area, or even just some toddler playdates. Thanks for the awesome advice!